Lisa Green

Editor-in-chief, Australian House & Garden

We discuss the rewarding partnership between Sydney Living Museums and Australian House & Garden with the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Lisa Green.

Award-winning editor Lisa Green took the helm at Australian House & Garden in 2006 and has firmly established the publication as the leading aspirational homes magazine in the Australian market. With a shared interest in history and heritage, an organic partnership has developed between Australian House & Garden and SLM – which holds every issue of the magazine since its very first edition, in 1948.

What made you choose to host the recent 70th anniversary celebrations of Australian House & Garden at The Mint?

The heritage architecture of the original buildings juxtaposed with the contemporary additions by architects Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp struck just the right chord for a magazine that has been around 70 years – we revere the past while celebrating the contemporary. Plus I’ve always loved the central courtyard and raised lawn with its single crepe myrtle tree. And the backdrop of the city skyscrapers. Having the bells of St Mary’s toll during the speeches was a great moment!

Tell us a little about the Australian House & Garden time capsule, which has been entrusted to SLM for ten years.

We were keen to mark this special anniversary, and I was tickled by the idea that in ten years from now someone could open a time capsule and be transported to an Australian home in 2018. We’ve filled it with household items, from new voice-activated technologies to smartphones and Fitbits to current health food fads. Naturally we’ve included the 70th anniversary edition of the magazine, along with current building and decorating materials, and lists reflecting popular culture. There’s also a copy of the autumn edition of Unlocked.

As a seventh-generation Australian, you’ve uncovered some convict ancestry. Is there a particular story that stood out in your research?

There were several First Fleeters in my family but the best known is John Small, transported on the Charlotte, and his future wife, Mary Parker, who arrived on the Lady Penrhyn, having been somewhat maliciously accused by her employer of stealing linen. John was one of four penniless marines convicted and sentenced to death, then reprieved and transported. John and Mary married in 1788, and in 1794 John was granted 30 acres ‘at the Eastern Farms’ (later Kissing Point, and today Ryde) and was soon sending produce down the Parramatta River to Sydney. In 1808 the second of their seven children, Mary, married Irish convict Mathew Hughes (he arrived on the Britannia in 1797). He was appointed schoolmaster at Kissing Point in 1799. Mary and Mathew were my paternal grandmother’s great-grandparents and Granny spent all her life in the Ryde/Eastwood area. In a classic case of ‘the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree’, I was born at Ryde Hospital! Mary Parker died tragically in 1824, accidentally falling into a well. Her son William ‘saw two shoes and a woman’s cap floating on the surface’.

The bicentenary of the Hyde Park Barracks is coming up next year. How would you describe the barracks’ impact on the story of Sydney?

This landmark building by Greenway positively thrums with atmosphere. It’s not difficult to imagine the scenes in early colonial days when it was a hive of activity, and the museum brings those stories to life for visitors of all ages and nationalities. From the hammocks in the dorms to the poignant women’s section and the convict records themselves, the early days of the colony are laid bare.

Complete this sentence: Sydney Living Museums is …

… preserving Sydney’s built and social heritage and bringing the past to life for new generations, with relevant, beautifully curated exhibitions. The buildings and archives tell the story of Sydney and are extraordinarily important to understanding our city and her past.

This article originally appeared in Unlocked: The Sydney Living Museums Gazette, our Members’ magazine.

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Woman dressed in blue, leaning on blue background.

Lisa Green. Photo © Maree Homer